- Publish Date
- Friday, 12 June 2020, 4:58PM
The Blues are confident of playing in front of their biggest home crowd in more than a decade when they take on the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Aotearoa on Sunday.
The reshuffled all-Kiwi competition is set to start this weekend - the first professional rugby in three months following the cancellation of the game globally due to Covid-19.
New Zealand's move to alert level 1 this week means restrictions around mass gatherings have been lifted and sporting events can host crowds.
Tickets have been selling rapidly for the clash between the Blues and Hurricanes, a match in which All Blacks superstar Beauden Barrett will make his debut for the franchise.
Eden Park chief executive Nick Saunter confirmed more than 26,000 tickets have been sold.
"We're delighted, we're looking to exceed our greatest capacity crowd for the Blues over the last 10 years," Saunter told NZME.
"New Zealand leads the way in a number of sectors whether it be tourism, agriculture and now getting people back into Eden Park."
The Blues have discounted general admission tickets, allowing children to attend free, and have organised free public transport and gained approval for fans to flood on to the Eden Park pitch at the end of the match.
Saunter said the reopening of live events was huge for business, which also brings back jobs for several staff. He said they had been working hard this week to get the park up to scratch.
"From our perspective, we're planning for a full house," he said.
"It has been a challenge for the team to get the park back after three months in hibernation, making sure there'll be food and beverage out there to stock, the venue looks immaculate and the turf with three months of non-utilisation looks immaculate."
Blues chief executive Andrew Hore expressed his thanks for every ticket sale which will help offset major financial challenges faced by all involved in rugby at present.
Hore said when Covid-19 halted the Super Rugby season on March 12 the Blues were forecasting $1 million in ticket sales from that month.
"When you look at it from that perspective it's huge," he said. "The other thing you've got to be mindful in all of this is that helps us exist in the second half of the year when we don't have rugby."
Ahead of the Blues' return to the field, the Highlanders welcome the Chiefs to Dunedin.
The Highlanders confirmed they've sold 15,000 tickets so far for the match at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The Highlanders kick off against the Chiefs at 7.05pm on Saturday, while the Blues face the Hurricanes at 3.35pm on Sunday.